Sustainable Development and Pollution Prevention (P2)

Sustainable development and sustainability are concepts promoted as the basis for sound future development and economic growth. They are also terms shaping much of the mainstream environmental movement. Pollution prevention (P2) should be recognized as a core part of sustainable development and long-term planning. Fusing these two movements or worldviews can make both more successful in solving environmental problems. P2 approaches and technologies can assist business and communities in implementing sustainability.

"Sustainability means meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs" -Bruntland Report, 1987. Ohio EPA's Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) provides information about sustainability to assist businesses, governments and educators that are interested in defining sustainability and the role that P2 plays in sustainable planning.

Pollution Prevention and Sustainable Business Practices

Sustainable Business Practices (SBPs) means designing your business to reduce or eliminate reliance on finite resources. That includes a wide range of activities, including sustainable development that conserves land around cities and using sustainable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal or biofuels. It means designing products that reduce waste and are recyclable, as well as buying materials that are recycled from other sources. Sustainability also includes designing closed-loop systems both within and external to the production process.

The principles of sustainability apply to all aspects of business from construction, to development, to production. Sustainability issues have long been associated with conservation of resources and protecting the environment. The old view was that to embrace SBPs meant making sacrifices for the greater good. The new view is that sustainable practices increase long-term efficiency and provide long-term security. SBPs can guarantee that a business will be here for many years to come. Sustainability is not only good public relations, it is also sound business sense and can save money.

Pollution prevention (P2) is the "gateway" to sustainability. Pollution is waste. Understanding how waste is generated and how it can be minimized is the first step to eliminating waste, increasing efficiency and developing sustainable production methods.

Useful Definitions

Life Cycle Assessments (LCA): An assessment tool to identify environmental risks in the production or service life cycle and looking at the environmental threats to our business partners and customers, not measuring what goes in and out. LSA is done before looking at the internal environmental aspects.

Sustainable Value Chains: A model to determine which specific functions in a business need to become more sustainable; how those who perform those functions can see what their profession is doing about it; and how to develop sustainability skills relevant to their jobs. 

Environmental Management Systems (EMS): A continual cycle of planning, implementing, reviewing and improving the actions that an organization takes to meet its environmental obligations. Most EMSs today are based on the recently issued ISO 14001 Standard. Pollution prevention (P2) is an integral component of an EMS. P2 identifies opportunities to reduce waste, allows flexibility and effective long-term planning and increases efficiency.

Total Quality Environmental Management (TQEM): A process used to understand the environmental aspects of production processes and why pollution is created in the first place.

Waste Management: A process that identifies waste streams and potential waste reduction or minimization/ Also for managing any wastes and pollution that are not prevented.

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP): Purchasing products that use less toxic materials, generate less waste, are recyclable and or are made with recyclable materials. EPP reduces long-term costs and liabilities associated with: waste treatment/disposal; human health risks; environmental compliance and remediation; and/or raw material costs.

Pollution Prevention Regulatory Integration (P2RI): Pollution prevention (P2) regulatory integration serves as a model for building incentives into environmental regulatory systems. P2RI focuses on developing programs and policies that reward businesses for implementing newer more sustainable technologies and building practices, rather than just penalizing them for failed compliance. Contact Ohio EPA's Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) for more information.

OCAPP Projects

Important Sustainability Links

Training Opportunities

Sustainable practices are designed to eliminate reliance on finite resources and maximize efficiency. That means everything from sustainable development that conserves land around cities to using sustainable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal or biofuels.

Sustainable development not only conserves resources (including land) but also reduces long-term costs associated with maintaining infrastructure and supplying essential services. Efficient development also maximizes the availability of human resources to businesses, which translates into long-term economic viability that is less subject to the volatility associated with fluctuating energy and raw material prices.

Sustainable development helps to guarantee that a community will be viable for many years to come. Sustainability is not only good public relations, it also makes good business sense.

Pollution prevention (P2) technologies and regulatory practices can help communities and businesses implement sustainable development plans and sustainable production methods.

Important Definitions

  • Sustainable development: A framework under which communities can use resources efficiently, create efficient infrastructures, protect and enhance quality of life and create new businesses to strengthen their economies. Sustainable development minimizes sprawl and over-consumption and promotes long-term security. 
  • Sustainability: "The emerging doctrine that economic growth and development must take place and be maintained over time, within the limits set by ecology in the broadest sense by the interrelations of human beings and their works, the biosphere and the physical and chemical laws that govern it. It follows that environmental protection and economic development are complementary rather than antagonistic processes." -excerpt taken from William D. Ruckelshaus' "Toward a Sustainable World", Scientific American, September 1989.

Important Sustainable Development Links

Sustainable development and long-term planning will soon become a political mainstay for government at all levels and communities everywhere. Governments can implement pollution prevention (P2) and sustainable development in several different ways, including regulatory integration, sustainable development and incorporating sustainable P2 practices into daily operations such as purchasing and planning.

One of the goals of P2 and sustainability programs is to design regulations with built-in incentives for implementing P2 technologies and sustainable business practices (SBPs). Governments have historically used pollution legal "disincentives" to discourage pollution. P2 regulatory integration encourages the use of incentives that reward companies for implementing source reduction programs and P2 technologies. Such advances can also help make businesses more sustainable over the long-run by increasing efficiency. Incentives can also be used in development and building regulations and long term planning, as well.

Federal, state and local governments can all develop long-term plans and regulatory systems with P2 and sustainable development incentives. Businesses can assist in this process by educating lawmakers so that they can design such efforts that reward investment in newer, cleaner and more efficient technologies.

Pollution Prevention by Building Green

New building construction and building renovation represent one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy, not only in Ohio but worldwide. The materials and techniques used have both an immediate and long-term impact on our planet. According to the Worldwide Institute, building demolition, construction and renovation constitutes as much as 40 percent of raw material use and 40 percent of materials sent to landfills. In addition, buildings consume as much as 40 percent of energy generated.

One of the most significant long-term impacts is the ability for future generations to have the same resources and opportunities for development that we enjoy today. Green Building principles maximize the efficient use of energy, renewable materials and land. Buildings can be constructed that are much healthier for the builders, residents and the environment. The concept of multiple use, future modification or efficient deconstruction and reuse of materials is intrinsic to green design. Green building offers real potential for increasing profitability within the building industry, through reducing construction waste and providing buildings with much lower future operating costs.

Green Building Documents

Green Buildings in Ohio

Construction and Demolition Reuse and Recycling Information

Green Building Resources General Resources

State, City and Regional Green Building Programs

Green Building Books, Videos and Software